Evanston Audiology - Evanston, IL

Man holding blocked ear after swimming.

You’re on day two. There’s still complete obstruction in your right ear. You haven’t been able to hear anything in that direction since yesterday morning. You’re left feeling off balance as your left ear does double duty to compensate. You thought it might up after a good night’s sleep, but that’s not happening. So, how long will your blocked ear last?

It probably won’t be a great shock to find out that the number one factor in projecting the duration of your clogged ear is the cause of the blockage. Some blockages recede by themselves and somewhat quickly at that; others could linger and call for medical intervention.

As a rule of thumb, though, if your blockage lasts for any longer than a week, you may want to seek out some help.

When Should I Be Concerned About a Blocked Ear?

If you’re on the second day of a clogged ear, you might begin to think about potential causes. You’ll probably start thinking about your activities for the past couple of days: for instance, did you somehow get water in your ear?

What about the condition of your health? Are you dealing with the kind of discomfort and pain (or fever) that could be related to an ear infection? You might want to make an appointment if that’s the case.

This line of questioning is only a beginning. There are plenty of possible reasons for a blocked ear:

  • Growths: Your ears can have growths, lumps, and bulges which can even obstruct your ears.
  • Air pressure changes: Once in a while, your Eustachian tube can fail to properly adjust to changes in air pressure, causing the feeling of a temporary blockage in your ear or ears.
  • Irreversible hearing loss: Some forms of hearing loss feel a lot like a clogged ear. You need to schedule an appointment if your “clogged ear” lasts longer than it should.
  • Allergies: Some pollen allergies can trigger the body’s immune system response, which in turn cause fluid and swelling.
  • Earwax accumulation: If earwax becomes compacted or is not properly draining it can result in blockages..
  • Sinus infection: Because your sinuses, ears and throat are all interconnected, a sinus infection can create excess fluids to become lodged in your ears (causing a clog).
  • The ear canal or eustachian tube gets water stuck in it: The tiny places inside the ear are surprisingly good at trapping water and sweat. (Short-term blockage can certainly occur if you sweat heavily).
  • Ear Infection: An ear infection can cause fluid buildup and inflammation that ultimately blocks your ears.

The Quickest Way to Get Your Ears Back to Normal

Your ears will probably go back to normal after a couple of days if the blockage is caused by air pressure. If an ear infection is behind your clogged ears, you might have to wait until your body fights off the virus or bacteria at work (you might need an antibiotic to get faster relief). And that could take up to a week or two. You might have to wait even longer than that if you’re suffering from a sinus infection.

Some patience will be required before your ears return to normal (though that may seem counterintuitive), and you should be able to modify your expectations according to your actual situation.

Your first and most important task is to not cause the situation to get worse. When you first start to feel like your ears are blocked, it may be tempting to attempt to use cotton swabs to clear them out. All sorts of problems, from ear infections to hearing loss, can be caused by cotton swabs so this can be a particularly dangerous strategy. You will probably make the situation worse if you use cotton swabs.

It’s Possible That Your “Blockage” is Hearing Loss

So, if your ear is still blocked after two days and you don’t have any really great ideas as to what’s causing it, you may be understandably impatient. A few days is normally enough time for your body to clear up any blockage. But it might be, as a general rule of thumb, a good idea to come see us if your blockage persists for more than a week.

Early indications of hearing loss can also feel like clogged ears. And you don’t want to ignore hearing loss because, as you’ve most likely read in our other posts, it can lead to a whole host of other health concerns.

Doing no further damage first will allow your body a chance to heal and clear that blockage away naturally. But treatment could be required when those natural means do not succeed. Depending on the cause of your blockage, this might take a varying amount of time.

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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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